Skip to main content
PodcastEmployee AdvocacyMarketing

The Best Content Strategy for Employee Advocacy Success [Podcast]

By Jody Leon06/09/2023No Comments

[Episode Fourty of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧

In this episode, Bradley and Lewis discuss the two most common objectives of employee advocacy and the content strategies you’ll want to deploy to achieve them.

Plus, Lewis explains the “Holy Trinity” of content types you’ll need to include to generate the best results from your employee advocacy program.

Organizations all over the world in every sector are driving strategic competitive advantage by scaling the impact of their employees’ voices… and now YOU can too! As we delve beyond the why and get straight to the how so that you can put employee-driven growth at the heart of your organization.

Welcome to the new and improved version of The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. In this new format, CEO Bradley Keenan is joined by DSMN8’s very own Lewis Gray (Senior Marketing Manager) as a co-host.


BK: Welcome to The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan. I’m the founder and CEO of the employee advocacy platform, DSMN8 also now author of the book Employee Advocacy: 101 Cheat Codes. And with me, I have Lewis Gray, who is our senior marketing manager. How are you, Lewis?

LG: I’m good, man. I feel like this is gonna get. Is this gonna be shoehorned into every episode? Have you updated your LinkedIn yet?

BK: Yeah, I did do that thing where I put like author of, and I felt it was really cringy, but I sort of, you know, well, I mean, we talk about this a lot with employee advocacy where people don’t want to do it, but the benefit of actually doing it is there. So, for me, I did feel a bit cringy writing author on LinkedIn, but it’s going to raise awareness for the book, and it’s going to help promote the business. So it’s all good.

LG: I mean, you did write a book, like by definition, I think you can.

BK: Yeah, I know, but you know, when you become that guy, and you see other people do it. And the worst one is when people say, like bestselling author, and I’m like best selling on what, and it’s like, is it the New York Times? No, it was Amazon for one day. And it’s just like, and I, and I wondered, do they believe that? So every time someone said I was really good. You’ve written a book. I’m like, yeah, it’s cool, but it’s very niche book for a very specific market. Like I haven’t written the next Harry Potter, but there’s not to diminish the achievement of, of doing it.

LG: Well, you are, you are DSMN8’s bestselling author.

BK: That is true. I am the number one author in DSMN8, so I could be proud of that.

LG: I’ll do that for the next episode. I’ll do the intro, and I’ll tee you up as bestselling, DSMN8’s bestselling author, Bradley Keenan.

BK: of 2023.

LG: Of 2023 exactly. Okay. I’ll explain the premise for this episode very quickly, and then we can get into it.

So basically, what we’re going to be talking about today is, the main objectives that people tend to have when they’re launching an employee advocacy program, and we’re going to be getting into the content types that you’re going to want to be asking your employees to share, to increase your chances of reaching those goals. So, with that said, we’ll get into a bit more detail as we go. But for now, let’s get into it.

Okay, so the idea for this episode came about through conversations with our customer success team. So we were speaking with some of our customer success managers, and they were basically telling us that when companies are launching employee advocacy programs, generally speaking, they have a goal in mind, so they know what they want to achieve with employee advocacy.

And if they don’t, then you know we’ll encourage them to, to think about that because it’s going to ultimately affect how you run your program. But what we were hearing is that there were two goals that always seem to come up.

So, the two most common objectives that people have when they’re launching a program is they either want to generate more website traffic or they want to build awareness through the program. So, depending on what your goals are, that’s going to change the type of content that you put into your program and that you’re asking your employees to share.

But obviously we’ll focus on LinkedIn when it comes to where you’re sharing your content, just because, generally speaking, that’s where you’re going to be asking your employees to share. But there’s a lot of obviously talk about algorithm changes and what type of content performs the best on LinkedIn.

You know, people often shy away from links when they’re trying to get generate more reach. Wrongly, so I think. But we wanted to kind of focus on what content types you should really be sharing, depending on what your goals are.

So, we’re going to hone in on those two main goals that we hear about the most. And don’t get me wrong, they’re not the only ones. So, you know, people have all kinds of goals when it comes to employee advocacy. But we thought for the sake of just kind of zeroing in on the most common goals with employee advocacy, we would just talk about the content types that are going to better your chances of seeing the best results and actually achieving those goals.

BK: Do you think those? Sorry to interrupt. So when people, so you’re saying about different, depending on the goal, content that you put into it.

For me, I think it’s more about the volume of each version, each type of content, as opposed to absolutes of saying, well, if your strategy is this, you should only do this.

And I think that’s one of the mistakes I see people do. So, we had a call this week with a client. They’ve been a client for like four years. I won’t name-drop them for obvious reasons. But they only put in like one piece of content a week.

And it’s a very strategic thing that they do on a Friday. It’s like a Friday roundup type thing. And that’s the only piece of content they put in every week. And every week, they have a huge number of their employees go and share it.

And I was saying to them, the more content you put into it, the more of a habit it will form with people who are using it, the more that they’ll see it as a resource for them as an individual. At the moment, If I worked for that company, I would feel like I was the resource. I heard this used yesterday. It was on a Gong recording, and the guys have apologized for saying it, but I was like, I love that.

And he said, employee advocacy was treated as like a Wi-Fi extender range extender, you know, and I actually quite liked that analogy, but, yeah. So people just see it as “oh, I’m just going to utilize the employee to distribute this one piece of content a week. And that’s why we have the program”.

Now, even if that is why you have the program, if you provided value from Monday to Thursday, from whatever content, whether it’s, you know, we’re gonna talk about the different types of content, but even if it was things that had no benefit to the company whatsoever, outside of helping the employee generate their own personal brand, more people on Friday will come in and share that thing that is critical to you. But they really did just see it as absolute.

Like the only reason we signed up this program is to distribute this Friday’s piece of content. We’re not going to do anything else. And I just found that a little bit short-sighted.

LG: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I love the analogy as well. That’s brilliant. I’m absolutely stealing that. But yeah, 100%. Yeah, no, I won’t use it in a positive way.

BK: To be on the front page of the website, your Wi-Fi extender for your communications.

LG: It’s absolutely what you shouldn’t be thinking. But yeah, I think we’ve spoken about this on a recent episode of the podcast about trust being one of the most important aspects of your program. So that’s your employees building trust among their networks, but also, as a program manager, you have to build trust with your employees or just your colleagues because they’re trusting you.

I mean, you’re asking them to share your content to their own LinkedIn feeds. And there has to be a level of trust there. It’s like the content that we provide you has to be relevant to your networks, and you have to be comfortable sharing it. So the last thing you want is obviously for your employees to feel like a, what was it a Wi-Fi range extender?

BK: Wi-Fi range extender.

LG: Wi-Fi range extender. Yeah, that’s brilliant. So I mean, I guess not a place to start, but to kind of build on why there’s often a bit of confusion when it comes to what content types you should be uploading. And again, zeroing in on LinkedIn.

We’ll often see companies try to pivot their strategies based on LinkedIn’s algorithm changes. So, obviously, the algorithms are changing all the time. I think most recently was probably the biggest update to LinkedIn’s algorithm we’ve had for a while. And we covered it on a previous podcast episode.

When these things happen, companies will often, and social teams especially, are guilty of this, will pivot the type of content that they’re sharing to LinkedIn to try to suit what they think the algorithm wants to see. And more often than not, that’s, you know, they think photos, selfies, videos. And again, it’s like anything but a link; don’t share a link because LinkedIn doesn’t want people, you know, navigating away from the website.

And then, as a result, their analytics start to suffer. So because they’re trying new content types and they’re going out there with a lot of zero-click content.

If your goal with employee advocacy, and we know this is the case with so many companies, is to generate more website traffic, then having that knee-jerk reaction and pivoting your content strategy with advocacy will ultimately harm your content’s performance. And you’ll quickly see a decrease in your website traffic from your program because you’re just throwing in the types of content you think that the algorithm wants to see.

BK: Yeah, absolutely. But also, people assume that you in order to generate a website click, you have to provide a link. Right now, we know that’s not true. So if I was to share, and we do a lot of this, so we do a lot of text only, what we call evergreen posts in our own employee advocacy program, so these are posts that are literally thought leadership, you know, statistics, little kind of nuggets of information, they’re text only a few hashtags, you know, employee advocacy being one of them.

And there’s no call to action. There’s no video to watch. There’s no “come to our website”. Now, the more our employees share that, the more people see those employees in feed, the more somebody is gonna go; what is DSMN8?

And then, go into Google, search the word DSMN8, and go to our website, or just assume and go to our website. And we can’t track that. But we know that the more that we do it, the more website traffic happens. So I think sometimes people get so caught up in what their primary objective is, which is generating website traffic, and see it through this lens of the only way I could do that is by providing a clickable link. Now, clickable links do still work and work really well, but I think sometimes people just get tunnel vision with it.

LG: Yeah, definitely. There’s so much that you don’t see. I mean, we have it, you know, we use self-reported attribution on our website. So we let people tell us how they heard about DSMN8 or, you know, what led them to our website that day. And a lot of the time.

BK: And what do they say, Lewis? What do they say most of the time?

LG: Most of the time, it’s LinkedIn. So, it’s LinkedIn social posts. We have a few variations on there just so that we can be a bit more specific, but, sorry, that’s on the on a few of the forms, sorry, where we have a drop-down, but there’s a self-reported bit, and it’s always LinkedIn, or I saw the social post, and we’ve had it countless times as well. We’ve had leads generated through people just DMing random DSMN8 employees because they saw a piece of content and said, “oh, I’d love to set up a call”. Or “can you tell me more about this?”

BK: So here’s a true story for you, right? So yesterday we had a, no, sorry, the day before yesterday, we had an inbound inquiry that came via Jody, right?

So it goes into a marketing director. Now, Jody shares a lot through employee advocacy. So he had connected with somebody in a senior role in a very, very large organization. And he’s been sharing stuff for two years.

At no point has this guy ever interacted with Jody’s posts. He’s never liked anything. He’s never commented anything. He comes out the blue, contacts Jody, and says, “Hey, can I talk to one of your sales team? We’re looking at getting a new employee advocacy program in place from January”.

The call happened yesterday. I listened to the Gong call, and I honestly think it could be our biggest customer. So this guy in the background has been seeing DSMN8. No, actually, no, let me add something to that. So this guy went to, I actually think it was LinkedIn. It was LinkedIn, and then LinkedIn referred us.

So he said, “Oh, I know those guys. I am connected to the marketing director and then came via the marketing director”. So, how do you attribute that? Now, what’s the source of it? Is it LinkedIn recommending DSMN8? Is it Jody’s activity? Is it the guy has seen ads? Is it a combination of everything? Where, if we had just said, “okay, well, the only way we can do this is by providing clickable links, that guy’s never clicked on one of our links”.

LG: Yeah. Yeah, it’s exactly that. So much of this stuff you don’t know, you won’t know about until it happens. And often, when it does happen, you won’t know about it. The example that I used the other day was I was looking for a piece of software recently for a quite a major project that we’re working on. And I did all of my research on LinkedIn and also on, you know, review sites like, G2. But you know, I was browsing there. I was looking at the top providers for that particular niche on G2.

And then I was going to LinkedIn and just searching keywords and seeing what people were talking about, asking my network for their recommendations. But the way that I reached out ultimately was I just went to their website and booked a demo.

And the conversation was never had about, how did you hear about us? And if they’d have asked me, I would have told them that I’ve been, you know, all over LinkedIn, and I’ve been seeing people talking about your product, but also a number of your employees posting about it too. And I ultimately reached out that way. So just because you can’t see it, I mean, we always talk about this as dark social, isn’t it? Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

BK: I think the use of link posts is like when people say to me, when should we use them? My answer is usually like when it makes sense to.

So what’s funny is people, people, to demonize link posts, and they’re like, well, they get less, you know, 20% less engagement. And to me, I think we might’ve used this analogy before, but it’s like when someone starts off on kind of like a fitness journey, and they get obsessed over, you know, the new Garmin Phoenix watch, and their nutrients and, like, macronutrients. And it’s just like, you’re going to see your gains from getting up and walking. You just literally need to be active.

And once you get to elite athlete level, maybe that 20% will make even the slightest difference. But for me, it’s like going from not sharing at all to sharing links is a thousand, 2000% increase or whatever it works out to be of what the activity was prior to that. So if you’re sharing a link, and it makes sense to, because at the end of that link is something of actual value, then share links.

If it’s, you’re just doing a link to get someone to your website, I would say don’t do that because you’re just going to have a high bounce rate. So even if I put a link post and it’s just to my homepage, but the post itself is talking about something completely unrelated. Yes, I get a link, and I can go, “oh, I got a click to our website”, but what did that traffic actually do where they landed on our homepage, and they’re not really somebody who’s in the buying cycle. So I think when it makes sense to use links, use them.

LG: Yeah. And talking about algorithm updates earlier, this is a bit of a tenuous link, but we produced an episode recently talking about the algorithm updates, which I think I’ve already mentioned, but we created an analogy in that episode, or an acronym rather, sorry, it was PACKD, that’s P-A-C-K-D.

BK: You created an analogy. I’m not taking credit for this one.

LG: Sorry, I need to take ownership. Author of the acronym, Lewis Gray, creator of the PACKD analogy.

BK: What was my acronym for your name the other day?

LG: Oh, I can’t remember, man. I feel like you came up with it in about 20 seconds, but it was brilliant.

BK: Was it “Legend Every Week In Style”  That was what I said. You were Lewis “Legend Every Week In Style”.

LG: I’ll take it. Just with the podcast, it’s every other week.

But yeah, the acronym that we created for that episode was just about, it was basically, we summarized all of what the two senior individuals from LinkedIn had said the algorithm now wants from your social posts.

And basically, it spoke about how you can write great content that people will engage with no matter what the post type is, whether that’s a link post, an image, or whatever. Provided, like Brad, you’ve just said the value is there in the caption. You’re not just trying to direct people to your website. Then, people are still going to click. If that makes sense, like you have to, like the algorithm’s going to, the algorithm will show it to more people.

If the post itself offers value and speaks to a distinct audience, and everything that we cover in that acronym, it’s still going to be showing to more people. Like, yes, it’s, I don’t know, potentially we’ll get that 20% less reach than the, you know, the image post might have done, but at the end of the day, links generate traffic, traffic generates leads, and ultimately, new business.

BK: I think this is why when you sell an employee advocacy program in, if the person launching the program is too junior and they don’t include other stakeholders in the marketing team, so let’s just say that the person is purely focused on social media reach, they don’t care about anything else, they’ll make decisions based on their own primary objectives, which is increase in social media reach.

So, let’s take the example of a link post. And let’s say is 20% less likely to be seen in feed. I don’t know what the statistic is, but let’s say it’s that the value if it is clickable content, and it is going to drive people who are potential customers to your website is massively amplified if you were then using retargeting.

So, you’re then able to utilize the fact that somebody came to your website as part of your retargeting strategy. So you can continue to market to them on a, you know, on a kind of semi-ongoing basis, but it’s only when the entire marketing team think about advocacy and think about all the different ways it can benefit them, but that 20% loss in reach from the click is actually offset massively by the value that you would get from that person.

Once they come to your website, but again, only if that content is something of value. Otherwise, I use this analogy before, but like, I can get, I can get likes on a post by posting a picture of a cat. Everyone likes picture of a cat, right? That doesn’t mean it’s going to help my business in any way. So I can say I got a hundred likes. Well, why? Well, I posted a picture of my cat. Okay, cool. But, even if I put that picture on my website, I’d be driving a load of people to our website that have no interest in employee advocacy or buying. So, I would actually just mess up our statistics.

LG: Yeah, it’s like the smaller number of link clickers is, you know, with high intent is way more powerful and impactful than the high view count.

BK: Oh, absolutely.

LG: I don’t want to call them vanity metrics because I think there’s, there’s huge value, obviously. This is probably what we should get onto is the other goal of elevating brand awareness. So obviously, which is kind of covered the goal of generating traffic when it comes to elevating brand awareness.

What we tend to see then, especially, is people moving away from clickable content altogether. And to be fair, I can kind of understand it. If your primary goal is to elevate brand awareness, then zero-click content probably is a nice play. It’s easier to generate engagement and get eyes on it while it’s in the feed, and it will help your employees build familiarity among their audiences. Video is a great example of this.

You know, historically, they perform well for engagement, but obviously, because it’s not clickable content, less well for clicks. But I think that the main takeaway from, for all of this, is this, I mean, we, we put this together, and we talk about this all the time, but it’s this holy Trinity of content for employee advocacy.

So whether you’re trying to generate website traffic or you’re trying to build brand awareness. Generally speaking, there’s three types of content that you’re gonna wanna include in your program. And this is regularly, so it’s not prioritize one, prioritize the other.

To achieve the best results, you wanna include company content. So that’s everything from, this is quite broad, but this is everything from company news to, I don’t know, it could be a research paper or an ebook, a download that you’re sharing. So, anything that’s primarily company-centric.

You’ve then got company culture content, which we separate from the company content. I know it’s a bit confusing, but you have company content and company culture content. But the reason that we separate it is just because if you include it in the company content side of things, and people often neglect the company culture content.

So that’s everything from behind-the-scenes photos from away days to, I don’t know, celebrating a an individual employee’s achievements.

And then the last one is third-party content, which is probably the most overlooked one. So, third-party content, again, as the name describes, it’s anything that’s not produced by your company but is relevant to your company, whether that’s the niche that you operate in or it’s something that’s gonna be relevant to your employees’ audiences. So a good example of this is, you know, we are in the employee advocacy space.

So if the likes of Forbes, for example, is talking about employee advocacy, then that’s something that I would upload to our employee advocacy platform for DSMN8 employees to share. Just because I know it’s going to be relevant to their audiences. And it’s, it kind of takes away that I’ve forgotten it already, Brad, the Wi-Fi reach extender.

BK: Range extender. 

LG: The range extender feeling because your employees, you don’t want them to feel like talking billboards.

Like this is something that you have to build that level of trust and just giving them that content, especially for your salespeople. It’s just immensely valuable because it adds more weight to what they’re regularly talking about.

So it’s like, okay, let’s use employee advocacy as the example. It’s not just, you know, DSMN8 aren’t always talking about DSMN8 content. Like, here’s a Forbes article that kind of adds more weight to what I’m saying. And it helps. It just helps them build their personal brands.

But the thing that the reason I say it’s so overlooked is because something a lot of companies struggle with is keeping that constant flow of content coming into their platform. Cause obviously, you want employees to log in and see new content ready to share. So they don’t lose interest.

One of the things people will often say is that, “oh, we just haven’t had any content to upload. We’ve got nothing from our site to upload to the platform”. Use third-party content. It just keeps the content coming in for smaller teams, especially if you’re a smaller marketing team and you’re only producing, you know, two to three pieces of content per week. Third-party content just fills that gap. It’s also immensely valuable. So it’s those.

BK: And it’s pretty easily, you can get your hands on it because either you’re going to do something pretty simple, like a Google news alert and read the article and see whether it aligns with your company’s, you know, message and strategy.

What most people would do is let their employees suggest the content to them at a kind of team level. So if a salesperson finds a piece of content that is, you know, peer-reviewed research as an example, which helps them sell their product, then they can share that with other salespeople to say, “Hey, this is something that maybe you should share as well because I shared it and it started a conversation with a prospective client”. So I think sometimes it’s like, it can seem daunting to add third-party content in there, but you know, to find a relevant article is a lot quicker than writing one, I would say.

LG: Yeah, definitely. And especially if your goal is generating website traffic. So if you set this, if you set up an employee advocacy program for the sake of generating more website traffic because it will do, it will have a an immense effect on it, but then people will often shy away from third-party content, it’s like, well, why would we want to upload that and direct, you know, our employees audiences to somebody else’s website?

BK: Yeah, there is a stopgap between them. I’ve seen somebody do it where they will write, they will have third-party content listed on their website. So, and then they’ll write like a paragraph of explaining why this article is valuable. So they’re essentially linking from their website out to Forbes, but they’ll create, you know, almost like a not mini landing page, but just a brief summary of Forbes publish this article. It’s valuable because one, two, three. And then you could direct somebody to that landing page where you’re telling them why we think you should read this article. And again, if you do retargeting, then that gives you the benefit of a kind of attracting that person through your website so you can retarget to them.

LG: Yeah, I love that. I need to try that.

BK: Don’t need any more work, please.

LG: Yeah, I feel like we’ve done that to some extent in the past, but that’s a really nice play.

But yeah, I guess that’s kind of the main takeaway, from my side at least, is no matter what your goals are with employee advocacy. Obviously, you can lean into one type of content if your primary goal is that but you don’t want to own, and again, I’m thinking about generating website traffic because that’s the most common one.

Don’t just lean into that one content type, which in that instance would be link content. Lean into the company culture content, the third-party content. Think about this holy Trinity of content that you need to see the best chances of success.

And ultimately, it will just it will contribute to the longevity of your program as well because, you know, we spoke about trust. If employees are just feeling like they’re Wi-Fi range extenders and talking billboards, ultimately, they’re going to stop engaging with the platform as well. So, not only will it help you see better results, but not doing so might mean that your program eventually starts to decline in performance as opposed to just, you know, even plateauing.

BK: You’ve really latched onto this Wi-Fi extender analogy.

LG: Yeah, I wrote it down as well. If you ever see me look away during a podcast, if you’re watching this podcast, it’s always because sometimes it’s to remember something you said, Brad, that I can comment on for the sake of the episode. But usually, it’s because you’ve given me a content idea, and it’s just a double win for me. We get a podcast episode. I get some good content ideas as well. 

BK: So, Lewis, let’s summarize. So, if you’re running an employee advocacy program, don’t get too obsessed about whether content is clickable or not clickable, do it when it makes sense and having a different content types. So both whether it’s clickable or not clickable, but also whether it’s content your company is producing or third-party content that’s supporting your company message or your sales strategy. And then don’t get too caught up in attribution.

Obviously, it’s where you can attribute things. It’s always valuable, but there’s a huge amount of activity going on without you being aware of it. And essentially, every piece of content that you put out that gives value to the end user is going to value, add value to your company’s employee advocacy strategy and the results that you will see.

LG: Nice. Very well summarized. And just a reminder as well, there’s still a chance to grab a free copy Brad’s upcoming book, Employee Advocacy: 101 Cheat Codes. So if you’re watching this podcast, we’ll just pull a QR code up on screen so you can request a free copy, and if you’re listening, we’ll drop the link in the show notes below.

If you did enjoy this episode, please do leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. It’s a massive help for us, but also, if you wanted to connect with myself or Bradley, the best way to do that is on LinkedIn. So thank you very much for listening, and we’ll catch you in two weeks time.

Ready to get started with employee advocacy?

But not sure if you’re ready for an employee advocacy platform?

Grab our employee advocacy essentials to put the foundations in place!

Prefer to cut to the chase and speak with a member of our team?

Roger that!

Schedule a call with one of the team.

VP of Marketing at DSMN8. With over 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, Jody leads the DSMN8 marketing team, covering brand, demand, and product marketing.